No Pain, No Gain

Here's what you told us your looking for in terms of technology and processes needed to overcome some of your current challenges.

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Preparing for IMTS and the K show this summer, I reached out to many of you to learn what you are looking for when it comes to the technology and processes you need to overcome some of your current challenges. I was flooded with a lot of information that not only helped guide me down the aisles of IMTS and K, but that will fuel the content of MMT for the coming year. I’d like to share some those pain points here, so you know that you are not alone.

Many expressed that gaining a competitive advantage is a top priority. However, when it comes to technology and process, the differing skill sets among workers, the ever-increasing workpiece diversification, increased design complexity and more frequent workpiece change-overs pose ongoing challenges. Ever shorter delivery times and not getting accurate data from customers were also mentioned. 

“Soft areas” in moldmaking—shopfloor management, material requirements planning, enterprise resource planning, scheduling software, program management, quoting software— are another real challenge, especially as the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 take off.

On the people side, the industry is still dealing with the lack of a skilled workforce, but using the right technology to reduce lead times while taking a scientific approach to moldmaking can help reduce labor needs and improve product and service quality. 

There are a number of shifts occurring in moldmaking as the market continues to mature. A few game-changers are:

Data-driven manufacturing. Shops are beginning to track data internally, analyze it and use it to make decisions in their operations. This involves implementing more sophisticated programs to manage production, track data and perform predictive analysis. 

Automation. Continued, or accelerating, advancement and investment in automation is helping to reduce production time in areas that require repetitive tasks, such as electrode and component manufacture, polishing and finishing.

Workforce development. As the market looks towards re-investment and re-creation of local training programs, moldmakers are also looking at technology solutions, like lights-out manufacturing and automation, to bridge the gap.

Market opportunities and diversification. Moldmakers are “looking around” for opportunities to diversify their businesses, leveraging their equipment and know-how to find places to grow their businesses.

Overall, moldmakers are striving to make smart investments in people, processes and technology, and we hope MMT can be a part of that learning process. 

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